Toro Rosso drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are celebrating in Brazil on Saturday after both qualifying inside the top ten for tomorrow’s race at Interlagos.
The wet conditions at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace meant that many drivers were caught out and made mistakes, and both Vergne and Ricciardo appeared to be at risk of dropping out in Q1. However, both drivers rallied to make it through to Q2 and the final top ten shootout after that, eventually finishing seventh and eighth.
“It’s the best qualifying the team has had in a long time and I am very happy that both cars are in the top eight,” seventh-placed Ricciardo said on Saturday. “I don’t think there was much betwen me and Jev [Vergne] today. Tomorrow? The weather will probably decide the story, but anyway, seventh is a great place from which to start.”
For Vergne, the result was particularly surprising after struggling to get to grips with the car during practice on Friday.
“I am happy for myself and for the team because to get both cars into the top eight is a great result,” Vergne explained. “We were not really as quick as I had expected to be, because usually, in other races this year, we have a very good car in the wet, but since Friday I have been struggling a bit more than usual in these changeable conditions.
“However, even if qualifying was not easy, starting from eighth is very encouraging. Points definitely have to be my target for tomorrow and anything can happen here in the rain.”
Vergne is looking to score his first points since the Canadian Grand Prix back in June, whilst this will be Ricciardo’s final race for Toro Rosso ahead of his move to Red Bull as a replacement for the retiring Mark Webber.
Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.
Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.